Questions on the Fayette BoE/Bearden termination agreement go unanswered

Anyone wanting an explanation for the “mutual termination agreement” Wednesday between the Fayette County Board of Education and Superintendent Jeff Bearden will not get it. That is the position of the Fayette County School System and its attorney Phillip Hartley. The Thursday press release authored by Hartley gives no indication of the reasons behind the unexpected action that came after a three-hour executive session.

At the Wednesday called meeting and after the board returned from executive session, Chairman Leonard Presberg asked if there was any recommended action resulting from executive session. Bearden in presenting the recommendation said, “I recommend the board and superintendent enter into a mutual termination agreement to be effective Jan. 1, 2013, that will include an additional year of compensation and appropriate benefits. The written agreement will be prepared by the school district attorney.”

Asked by Presberg for a motion, board member Janet Smola moved that the board accept the superintendent’s recommendation, followed by board member Bob Todd who seconded the motion. The vote was 4-1, with Smola, Todd and board members Terri Smith and Marion Key voting in favor of the motion and Presberg opposed.

There was no discussion prior to the vote and nothing said after the vote. The meeting ended immediately thereafter.

The called meeting began at 3 p.m. with the school board going immediately into executive session. The board remained in executive session until 6 p.m. Hartley was present but not in the school board chambers.

Hartley on Thursday afternoon released a prepared statement stating, "At a specially called meeting on September 19, 2012, the Superintendent and Board of Education agreed, in accordance with the terms of the Superintendent’s employment agreement, to a mutual termination of that agreement effective January 1, 2013. The Board of Education expresses its appreciation to Dr. Bearden for his leadership and many initiatives that have improved the School District during his service as Superintendent. Dr. Bearden expresses his thanks and gratitude for the encouragement and most of all the support of the staff, parents, and community. The superintendent and all Board members are committed to a smooth and productive transition, continuing to address the needs of the School System and providing the best possible education for the students of Fayette County."

Neither school board members nor the school system are commenting on the issue. School system spokesperson Melinda Berry-Dreisbach on Thursday said Hartley’s press release will be the only statement issued on the mutual termination agreement.

There is no shortage of rumors surrounding the unexpected action at the Wednesday called meeting. Rumors notwithstanding, the only people who can answer the questions are not talking.

Larry Sussberg
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Peter Pfeifer
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Re: School Taxes

I don't believe that the statement that real estate taxes will go up if the ESPLOST fails is correct.
The School portion of our real estate tax is already at the maximum millage allowed by law. For it to increase, the School Board would have to place that increase on a ballot and the voters would have to approve it. Anybody agree or disagree with that?

suggarfoot
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Peter and Ginga are right

Our taxes will NOT go up if we don't vote to tax ourselves in the form of ESPLOST.

As far as Todd and Key on Rivers. Key voted against it. Dr Todd had just come on board. He, I'm told, was misslead by Smola and Smith (something it seems in my eyes they have done before, jump on the new commer and sway them before they get their feet wet...Beardon?) I'm told he regreted the vote later. Normaly, you could trust you fellow members.

Anyone riding by Rivers knows it was built for the developers as was the West bypass. We also own hundred of acres of idle cow pastures because of Smith, Smola, and Wright. The things they have done are mind boggling.

Larry Sussberg
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FCBOE, Suggarfoot

Please, its wrong to try to re-write history.

Dr. Todd and Marion Key voted in favor of building Rivers Elementary School. Go back to 2007 minutes of the board meetings. Look at December 2007 and see the vote 5 -0. Those are the facts.

I hope that those who have backed these candidates also go back and check because they have been duped into believing otherwise. The minutes show a 5 to 0 vote.

If Dr. Todd wants you to believe he was "misled" - well that is the worst excuse I have ever heard. Why would anyone vote for someone so impressionable he can't think for himself. if you not sure, abstain, postpone until you get the facts or vote NO, not YES. Meanwhile, There is nothing wrong in saying...Yes I voted for it and at the time it made sense. The mortgage back securities market that destroyed the housing boom and nearly bankrupted Wall Street occured in 2008....no one saw that coming.

Please, let's focus on solutions not try to rewrite history and more importantly, let's look forward, not backwards...the scorched earth approach alienates and contributes to the problem.

Thank you.

suggarfoot
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"the scorched earth "

sort of describes the financial landscape left by your and Neil's idol. Face it, the well got poisoned by your buddies. Don't try to lay it at other's doors because of their reaction to your friend's handywork. No one is buying it.

suggarfoot
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"the scorched earth "

sort of describes the financial landscape left by your and Neil's idol. Face it, the well got poisoned by your buddies. Don't try to lay it at other's doors because of their reaction to your friend's handywork. No one is buying it.

suggarfoot
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"the scorched earth "

sort of describes the financial landscape left by your and Neil's idol. Face it, the well got poisoned by your buddies. Don't try to lay it at other's doors because of their reaction to your friend's handywork. No one is buying it.

suggarfoot
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"the scorched earth "

sort of describes the financial landscape left by your and Neil's idol. Face it, the well got poisoned by your buddies. Don't try to lay it at other's doors because of their reaction to your friend's handywork. No one is buying it.

suggarfoot
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Peter and Ginga are right

Our taxes will NOT go up if we don't vote to tax ourselves in the form of ESPLOST.

As far as Todd and Key on Rivers. Key voted against it. Dr Todd had just come on board. He, I'm told, was misslead by Smola and Smith (something it seems in my eyes they have done before, jump on the new commer and sway them before they get their feet wet...Beardon?) I'm told he regreted the vote later. Normaly, you could trust you fellow members.

Anyone riding by Rivers knows it was built for the developers as was the West bypass. We also own hundred of acres of idle cow pastures because of Smith, Smola, and Wright. The things they have done are mind boggling.

Larry Sussberg
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Re: School Taxes
heatjam
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agree

agree

driftwood
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rumor has it 5 more days taken away next semester

Rumor mill has it that 5 more leave days will be added for next semester.
As stated, this may be nothing more that rumor...but I do have to ask...if it is not rumor and does come to fruition, does that mean Bearden's pay will be adjusted for these 5 days like the rest of the county employees? or b/c his is a special situation now, will it remain intact? Just curious.

ginga1414
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Suggar, Nuk, and patkebb Are 100% Right

Take into consideration that if Mary Kay Bacallao is elected to the Post 2 position, Fayette County will have a completely NEW Board of Education.

Smith and Smola have dominated (and I do mean DOMINATED) the Board for so many years that Todd and Key never had a voice. Smith, Smola and Wright rendered any other voices null and void. When Todd and Key voted in opposition, they were accused of being uncooperative.

Therefore, if Mary Kay Bacallao is elected in place of Terri Smith, we will have a completely NEW Board of Education.

Nuk is right! We desperately need a superintendent who is brave enough to ignore the silent/undercover backers of the lame duck faction.

Suggar is right! "We are in a sorry state of affairs!" Our Board and new superintendent need to be able to make the drastic cuts necessary to keep our school system running for the students who are left.

We all need to keep in mind that the operative words here should be "quality education." Whatever it takes to achieve that, that is what should be done. If it means closing schools, then we close schools. If it means downsizing staff, then we downsize.

Patkebb is right! For far too many years, it has all been about the POWER of Smith, Smola and whoever they could convince to side with them. They had their reign, and now we are 20 million dollars ($20,000,000) in the hole.

I completely disagree with Mr. Sussberg and his views concerning the "E SPLOST." We need to set an example for our children and teach them that you NEVER throw good money after bad.

I would really like to know exactly what Mr. Sussberg would do with ESPLOST funds. Where would he spend it?

Larry Sussberg
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Fayette E SPLOST vote Nov 6

Dear Ginga1414
Thank you for the questions you put forth and the opportunity to respond concerning the upcoming E SPLOST that Fayette residents will see on the ballet on November 6.

I agree that we should never throw good money after bad, so here is the link to show where all the GOOD money was spent as a result of the current Fayette E SPLOST.

You are 100% right that we need to set a good example for our children, and that example should always be to due excellent research and make intelligent and informed decisions....

Let's recap.

1-How would I spent the E Splost money?

Actually that is not for you or I to decide, in fact it is very carefully governed by Georgia State Law. How has the money been spent so far? Please see the attached link:

http://www.fcboe.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=504%3A...

Money well spent!

2-Are you aware that if you DO NOT vote YES to maintain the E SPOST your real estate taxes will increase?

Yes, your real estate taxes will increase, every home and land owner in Fayette County, will see an increase. The State of Georgia wants to encourage you and everyone in the county to have an E SPLOST so they can cut state funds further since they do not have the funds to support the schools. That is why 170 of the 180 Georgia school systems currently have E SPLOSTS. Georgia is giving home/landowners this incentive which will disappear if you vote NO and not YES. Your property taxes will RISE!

Click on the same link, and visit the example provided that shows the milage tax credit you receive on a home valued at $250,000. Again, you will lose that tax credit and pay more in real estate taxes if you do not vote YES.

http://www.fcboe.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=504%3A...

Maintaining the Fayette E SPLOST is cheaper for everyone in the form of real estate taxes unless you plan to purchase a new car every year in Fayette County. If you are not, it is better to have an E SPLOST in place and to vote YES to maintain it.

The lesson I taught my daughter who has since graduated from Fayette schools is the value of money and living within her means, as our government should. The State of Georgia is providing you that opportunity by reducing real estate taxes or, if you vote down the E SPLOST, increasing your real estate taxes.

These are the reasons why the FCBOE recently voted 5 to 0 (that includes Dr. Todd and Ms Key) in favor of supporting the E SPLOST. They know that the money has been wisely spent so far, that the spending of these funds are controlled under state law, and, that everyone will pay MORE in real estate taxes if residents don't vote YES. Please know that they can not say anything for or against it or use school funds or resources to support it, as governed by state law.

I hope that every political party in Fayette County, Republican, Tea, Democrats supports the E SPLOST and encourages everyone to vote YES on November 6. Ultimately everyone will pay less in taxes and the funds go to ourt most precious resouce - the children.

Thank you and please vote to maintain the Fayette E SPLOST on November 6.
Parents, its important for your children, and all residents, it's financially to your benefit.

heatjam
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Senior Citizens

Would Seniors pay more in property taxes if the e-splost is defeated? I know they will pay less in sales tax if it is...just wondering

suggarfoot
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It wasn't a good fit

We will have two new people on the school board after the elections and hopefully, at some point, a new super that will come in taking action from day one. I hope people remember these new people didn't cause the problem but will be taking the only actions that can be to remedy years of over building of schools and other wastefull acts.

We are in a sorry state of affairs. A major clean up is in order. There are going to be some painful things done, but look to your past decision makers, Smola, Smith, Wright. The block that voted together for the sake of it and not the well being of the system. Schools were built for developers and not for our children and teachers. Now we will pay the price.

Larry Sussberg
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FCBOE & Suggarfoot

How come people don't remember that Todd and Key also voted to build Rivers Elementary?

Check the FCBOE records from 2007, it was a 5 to 0 vote in favor.

If voters want to look back and blame elected officials, which is NOT what I am suggesting because we need to look forward, then be sure to lay the blame appropriately.

Let's see, Key will be re-elected this November since she is running unopposed and Todd is the TEA PARTY darling. Both voted for Rivers so we keep recycling the same people over and over.

If you want to clean house, then do it but be consistent, otherwise be honest that this is a popularity contest or lot's of mis information with low voter turn out voting without the facts.

Unfortunately the budget cuts will be made, and our children (and our future) may suffer. All the more reason the E SPLOST must be passed this November 6.

suggarfoot
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It wasn't a good fit

We will have two new people on the school board after the elections and hopefully, at some point, a new super that will come in taking action from day one. I hope people remember these new people didn't cause the problem but will be taking the only actions that can be to remedy years of over building of schools and other wastefull acts.

We are in a sorry state of affairs. A major clean up is in order. There are going to be some painful things done, but look to your past decision makers, Smola, Smith, Wright. The block that voted together for the sake of it and not the well being of the system. Schools were built for developers and not for our children and teachers. Now we will pay the price.

Just wondering
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The bottom line

While the board memebers fight and the superintendent throws in his towel, life goes on as normal in my classroom.And, in every other classroom in my school and I imagine every other classroom in the county. While the teachers are figuring out how to keep paying their bills with the continuting shots to their wallets, they are still showing up and making the difference for their students.
The taxpayers of this county should demand to know what went on in that meeting and why when they are having to cut the pay and benefits for those who are working so hard, they now have to pay a years worth of pay and benefits to one who won't be working for us at all.

I Heart Fayette
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Please don't generalize

I support Dr Bearden as an outstanding and innovative instructional leader who focuses on the right things to improve student achievement in the 21st century. I also admire his courage in the face of constant criticism and ongoing discord within the school board. I also believe we should close Brooks, Tryone, and consolidate FIS and Hood in order to address dwindling enrollments and make the best use of our newest facilities. I also firmly feel that this is the board''s opportunity and responsibility to draw equitable, desirable attendance areas to attract young families to the areas in the county with affordable housing. The sad fact is, there are many homes in lower price ranges, but public perception is that the schools aren't as good.

One more thing: no one in their right mind would take the job of superintendent without a severance written into his or her contract. I am certain this is standard practice.

NUK_1
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Bearden is an outstanding negotiator

He convinced the idiots on the BOE to extend his contract so he could then basically negotiate his resignation and get paid an extra year for doing nothing, much like how he did NOTHING after being selected for the position until way too late.

The BOE has some serious issues, not the least being how stupid can you be to extend Bearden's contract because you want him around for the tough decisions that he had never shown from Day 1 that he was going to make, but Bearden himself was a hire that did a horrendous job. Totally ignoring the serious financial crisis for over a year before getting serious(and then, only about what he'll get paid)pretty much shows how inept this man was for the job. Good riddance and only wish his resignation took effect that night.

patkebb
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Sick of hearing Bearden supporters

I am tired of hearing the cry of Bearden supporters. They do NOT have the best interests of Fayette County in mind. Many have only their interests in mind. A large number are parents from Tyrone and Brooks Elementary School.

They convinced Bearden, Smith, and Smola that their unenrolled, overfunded schools should be kept open. No impartial person looking at the facts could agree that doing so makes sense. Tyrone has too few students and a very serious septic tank problem. Brooks has 250 students, making it the county's smallest school. But, Bearden, Smith, and Smola have sold out the rest of Fayette County as they grovel at the feet of SOME Brooks and Tyrone parents. Note, I said some. I just talked to a Tyrone parent that said he understands the obvious - the school district must close schools. Logic mandates that Tyrone be one of them.

Fact - Dr. Bearden is leaving after slashing employee pay and benefits. His payoff - evidently $200,000 in taxpayer money. Price for his departure? The school district will have to eliminate 3-4 teachers to pay this greedy man.

Bearden, Smith, and Smola all supported Scott Hollowell in the recent election. HE LOST. He did not even win a majority of the vote in Tyrone or Brooks. But, what these people could not win at the ballot box, they try to achieve by brow-beating, name-calling, insulting, and bullying. This is NOT about helping the students, this is about POWER. IF Bearden can't have power, he has decided to take his toys (actually, a fat paycheck funded by the taxpayers) and flee. Smola did not run for reelection because of certain defeat. Smith will lose by a landslide in November. They can't have POWER, so, they ridicule others.

suggarfoot
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patkebb

you are so right. They would say anything to keep their power. They had some awsome email trees fine tuned for each area. They really worked it. Do people remember how they did the teachers in the prior election concerning pay? They promised them the sky and then took it away as soon as the ink was dry on the election results. The school closings would have been no different.

garfield47
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Why no answers!!!

This board does not want you to know why they voted 4 to 1 in favor of Dr. Bearden's resignation because that would mean they would have to explain all the wrong they have done.

Smith and Smola never voted with Todd and Keyes, so why start now. Dr Bearden must known something this board did not want made public. This board is only concerned about themselves and would put anyone out who does not vote with them or go along with what they want.

I applaud Dr. Bearden for standing up to this board, and I am sorry he will be leaving. Lee Presberg should be applauded also, because he had the back bone to vote against the resignation of Dr. Bearden.

Wake up Fayette County and vote this board out of office. They do not care about the crunch the Fayette County schools are in, they just care about themselves. Their self serving ways.

Time for a change and I encourage all voters to get these people out of office. We are losing Dr. Bearden to was willing to step up to the plate and make changes that need to be made. Our board had plenty of time to make changes, and all they could do was fight among themselves.

I don't want Fayette County schools to become like Clayton County schools, but if the citizens and voters of Fayette County don't wake up and let Smith, Smola, Keyes, and Todd know we are not taking it anymore, they will lead up to that end.

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